Maryland: A Unit Study

Maryland: A Unit Study
Maryland: A Unit Study

On June 20, 1632, King Charles I granted the Charter of Maryland to Cecilius Calvert, the Second Baron of Baltimore and son of the late Sir George Calvert the First Lord Baltimore. Sir George had the great desire to establish a colony in America, one where he would rule and be able to establish a land free from the religious persecution that was taking place in England. Cecilius was true to his father’s wishes, and pursued and was granted the Charter by the King, who named the colony Maryland to honor his wife Queen Henrietta Maria.

Maryland History

The Maryland colony covered a vast territory, and as set forth in the Charter was bound on the north by the 40th parallel, on the south by the Potomac River, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the west by the meridian passing through the source of the Potomac River. The Charter included all of the land of what is now Delaware, parts of Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Total payment owed to the King as set forth by the Charter was two Indian arrowheads each year and one fifth of any gold mined in the territory. Lord Baltimore was given very broad powers of rule, including the coinage of money, making war and peace, pardoning, establishing courts, and granting titles of nobility. One power not granted was the ability to tax the people without their consent.

Maryland was the first colony to establish religious tolerance, though it might not be so considered today. Lord Baltimore wished to establish a safe refuge for people of the Roman Catholic faith who were being persecuted elsewhere. As he could not then oppose the settlement of people of Protestant faith, laws prohibiting certain forms of worship did not exist in Maryland under Lord Baltimore.

Maryland: A Unit Study
The Ark and the Dove

In October 1633, the Ark and the Dove, ships of England, departed London for Maryland after detailed planning and selection of immigrants. The expedition was led by Leonard Calvert, Cecilius Calvert’s brother and the lieutenant governor of the chartered territory. The trip was a perilous journey during which one of the ships, the Dove, was presumed to be lost at sea in a severe storm. Though it survived, it lost contact with the Ark. Reunited later at Barbados, the two ships continued their journey and, with somewhere between 128 and 320 passengers, reached Virginia on February 27, 1634. Some of the passengers were destined for Virginia and disembarked the ships there; the remainder continued on to Maryland. On March 25, they came ashore to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation and on March 27, 1634, after exploring potential settlement sites, Governor Calvert determined that the best location for the settlement was a village inhabited by Yaocamicoe Indians. He bought this property including the dwellings, and the settlement’s name became St. Mary’s City.

By 1649, turmoil in England had reached America, forcing Lord Baltimore to appoint a Protestant governor over Maryland to prevent the forfeiture of his charter after Cromwell’s defeat of the Cavaliers and the later execution of King Charles. In this same year the Toleration Act was passed in Maryland, thus recognizing in law the toleration of religious sects one by another. By 1652, the Puritans were in full control of Maryland, and the Toleration Act was suspended for a time, being later re-instituted after direct intervention by Cromwell. After the Restoration in England in 1661, Lord Baltimore sent his son Charles to Maryland to govern the colony. In 1775, Lord Baltimore died making Charles the Third Lord Baltimore and Lord Proprietor of Maryland, the first to live among the colonists. Under King Charles II, Lord Baltimore was deprived of the territory that now makes up Delaware, it having been granted to William Penn. Later in 1688, King James was considering revocation of Lord Baltimore’s charter altogether when he was dethroned by William and Mary in what is known as the Glorious Revolution. Through a series of events after the revolution, Lord Baltimore did end up losing his charter, and the colony once more became a crown colony. During this period, laws were passed to adopt the Church of England as the official church of Maryland, and the capital was moved from St. Mary’s City to a providence renamed Annapolis in honor of Anne of Denmark. In 1715, Charles died, leaving his son Benedict to become the Fourth Lord Baltimore. As he had converted to a Protestant denomination, the government of Maryland was restored to him, where it remained until the American Revolution.

Maryland Geography

Maryland: A Unit Study

The state of Maryland ranks 42nd in the United States in area. It is generally divided into two sections.  The east shore is across the Chesapeake Bay on the Delmarva Peninsula.  The west shore includes the remainder of Maryland. The state can also be divided into six major topographical regions: the Atlantic Continental Shelf, the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Piedmont, the Blue Ridge Region, the Appalachian Ridge and Valley, and the Appalachian Plateau. This diverse topography, ranging from mountainous regions to rolling hills to low-lying marshlands, directly leads to a vast and diverse ecological system and the nickname “America in Miniature.”

Maryland exhibits two major climatic zones. The eastern half of the state has a humid tropical climate and the western half a humid continental climate. The highest temperature recorded was 109°F in Cumberland and Frederick on July 10, 1936. The lowest was -40°F at Oakland on January 13, 1912.

Maryland’s vegetation varies greatly over the state. Due to large amounts of annual rainfall the flora and fauna abound. Most of the state contains hardwood forests, which include huge white oaks (Maryland’s state tree), poplar, hickory, and ash. Softwood species include several different varieties of pine tree. Vast varieties of small plant life include grape, raspberry, honeysuckle, and others. Deer, rabbit, raccoon, fox, woodchuck, and squirrel are among some of the mammal life found. Three species of whale can be spotted offshore. And last but not least is the Chincoteague pony, which is annually waded across Assateague Island, Maryland, to Chincoteague, Virginia.

Maryland Economy

Maryland’s 2009 median household income was $69,272, placing it first in the country. Highly concentrated government and civilian service jobs account for the high income levels, with aerospace, defense, and other high-tech jobs leading the state economy. The Federal government is fueling the boom in technology jobs in the state. Profitable businesses and high paying jobs in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology include the National Institute of Health, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Goddard Space Flight Center, among many others.

The port of Baltimore is one of the largest ports in the United States. The connected road system makes it possible for imported products to reach two thirds of the U.S. population by truck overnight.

Maryland is also the home of Purdue farms, raising chickens and chicken products for the country, and accounting for 43% of the total agricultural product of the state. Also key for the state is commercial fishing in the Chesapeake Bay.

Interesting Maryland Facts
  • General George Washington resigned his commission as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army at the state house in Annapolis.
  • On January 14, 1784, the signing of the Treaty of Paris at the state capitol ended the Revolutionary War.
  • On September 13-14, 1814, in the Harbor of Baltimore opposite Ft. McHenry, Francis Scott Key was detained aboard a British ship of war during the bombardment of that fort during the War of 1812. After watching the battle, he wrote the famous poem which was later set to music and became known as the “Star Spangled Banner.”
  • Washington, DC originally sat on land that was given by Maryland to build the capital of the United States.
  • Maryland’s state house is the oldest still in use.
  • The Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, took place near Antietam Creek outside of Sharpsburg, Maryland.

  • Privateers were common in Baltimore, Maryland, during the War of 1812.  The British considered Baltimore “a nest of pirates.”  Compare and contrast a privateer with a pirate.
  • Label the following on a map of Maryland (see Notebooking Pages below):
    • Annapolis (state capital)
    • Baltimore (largest city)
    • The bordering states
    • Chesapeake Bay
    • Atlantic Ocean

Further Investigation

Quick Facts

Maryland History Timeline
Easy-to-follow chart.

A Brief History of Maryland
For kids.

State Almanac
Interesting facts.

Famous Facts
Other interesting facts.

The Geography of Maryland
Just the facts.

A Brief Description of the Geology of Maryland
Six physiographic provinces.

Maryland Toleration Act
Complete text.

Elected Officials
Maryland elected officials.


Maryland Quiz
Instead of quizzing after the fact, use these questions and research to find the answers.

Maryland Map and Quiz Printout
From Enchanted Learning.

The Dove
Coloring page of the ship.

Smith Island Cake
Maryland’s official dessert!

Old Bay Steamed Blue Crabs
Blue crabs are the official food of Maryland.

Interactive Writing Tool {Free}
Create a state brochure using this interactive printing press.

Interactive Map Maker
Make and label your own map of Maryland.

The U.S.: 50 States Map Quiz
Locate each state at


“The Founding of Maryland”
A chapter from This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall.

Maryland: A Unit Study

The Star-Spangled Banner illustrated by Peter Spier
We love Peter Spier books.  In this title, the words of our national anthem are beautifully illustrated with scenes from the War of 1812.

Maryland: A Unit Study

My State Notebook
From A Beka. “A basic guide to help students collect and learn the facts that are unique to their state as well as beginning research skills.”

Maryland: A Unit Study

Civics Activity Book
Also from A Beka, but written for a higher level than the above title, this activity book guides state research “in a study of national, state, and local government with a brief overview of the Constitution and a variety of interesting activity sheets. In addition to government, students also study the history, geography, and other characteristics of their state and local areas.” We have enjoyed many of the activities in this book, which include writing letters to state officials, researching the state history and other activities.

State Birds and Flowers Coloring Book

State Birds and Flowers Coloring Book
Inexpensive option from Dover Publishing. Also check out their United States Coloring Book that has a state outline, symbols, and facts on one page.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans
Free History Studies: The Star-Spangled Banner

Free History Studies: The Star-Spangled Banner
Learn more about Maryland resident Francis Scott Key and our National Anthem.

Free History Studies: Stephen Decatur & the Pirates
Military hero born in Maryland.

My State {Free Unit Study}
A recommended state study unit that covers civics, history, geography, language arts, applied math, science, and art, culminating in a personalized state notebook. We have also included additional go-along resources.

State History Outline & Projects
A wealth of original ideas and projects for making any state study a work of art!

Studying the 50 United States
Suggestions for a unit on any state from

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Maryland State Maps for Notebook

Maryland State Facts Coloring Pages for Notebook

U.S. States and Capitals Map
Color Maryland and write in the capital on this printable at

Maryland Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, recording state facts, or wrapping up.

View all of our state unit studies:
Free State Unit Studies
Free State Unit Studies